As E.W. Scripps exits the podcast sector, iHeartMedia continues to bulk up. iHeartMedia has agreed to acquire Triton Digital for $230 million in a deal that will give the radio giant a full slate of audio advertising technology and measurement capabilities as it builds out its podcast business. The biggest U.S. radio broadcaster has been working to expand its digital, streaming and on-demand business.
Triton was founded in 2006 and was purchased by Scripps in 2018 from private-equity firm Vector Capital for $150 million. They provide publishers advertising infrastructure and measurement tools, including distribution for digital-audio streams and podcasts, while dynamically inserting ads based on who is listening and audience tracking. It also operates a marketplace for buying and selling digital ads using automated technology, which will help iHeartMedia expand its offerings to the long tail of smaller, self-service ad buyers. Triton, whose customers include broadcasters, podcasters, and online music services in more than 50 countries, will continue to service clients outside of iHeartMedia.
Podcasting has grown quickly over the past five years, and players in the space are vying for listeners and for increasing advertising revenue. The medium now attracts more than 100 million monthly active listeners, according to Edison Research. The migration of listeners to on-demand audio, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, has sparked an arms race among major media and tech players, including Spotify, Amazon, and Sirius XM. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, U.S. ad revenue from podcasts is projected to exceed $1 billion this year. For iHeartMedia, Triton marks the fifth audio-tech acquisition in the past three years. The company previously bought Voxnest, a podcast marketplace, ad-serving and analytics provider; Jelli, which runs an ad-buying platform for broadcast radio that includes digital programmatic buying; Radiojar, a cloud-based audio playout platform; and Unified, a social ad data intelligence platform and solutions provider.
iHeartMedia said the combination of its own data and Triton’s will help the company build better tools to understand and reach audiences across broadcast, on-demand, digital streaming and podcasting. “Adding Triton Digital and its industry-leading services to the iHeartMedia audio ecosystem establishes iHeartMedia as the only company with a total audio advertising technology and data solution,” iHeartMedia Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman said in a statement. Under the proposed deal, all 166 Triton employees are joining iHeartMedia and CEO Neal Schore will continue to lead the company. The companies expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2021, pending usual closing conditions including regulatory approval.